The legendary cruiser Aurora lies at anchor at the point where the arm of the Neva, the Greater Nevka (Bolshaya Nevka), flows out of it. The cruiser was named after the frigate Aurora which became famous during the Crimean War (1853-1856).
Built at the St. Petersburg shipyard, the cruiser was launched in 1903 and fought in the battles of the Russo-Japanae War (1904-1905). Not long before the February Revolution of 1917 it was placed in dock for a general overhaul. In October 1917 the sailors of the Aurora joined the insurgent people. On the night of October 25, on the orders of the Military Revolutionary Committee, the cruiser sailed into the Neva and dropped anchor by the middle span of the St. Nicholas Bridge and trained its guns on the brightly illuminated windows of the Winter Palace, the seat of the Provisional Government. At 9:45 pm the Aurora gave the signal for the storming of the Winter Palace.
The crew of the Aurora fought in the Civil War and World War II. In November 1948 the ship was allotted a permanent mooring near the building of the Nakhimov Military Naval College as a monument to the Russian Socialist Revolution. In 1957 a branch of the Central Naval Museum was set up on the Aurora. The six-inch gun from which the legendary shot was fired is carefully preserved on the ship, as is the radio room, the first radio station of the proletarian revolution. From this station Lenin’s appeal “To the citizens of Russia” was broadcast, announcing the overthrow of the Provisional Government and the victory of the Communist Revolution in Russia.
Suddenly out of the night, a rumbling shock brings the delegates to their feet, wondering. It is the boom of cannon, the cruiser Aurora firing over the Winter Palace. Dull and muffled out of the distance it comes with steady, regular rhythm, a requiem tolling the death of the old order, a salutation to the new.
Albert Rhys Williams, Through the Russian Revolution, 1919